Brandon Kern

Ohio agriculture pushing back on Senate budget proposal

By Matt Reese

The complexities of property taxes — with a focus on residential property — have been one target of the Ohio Senate in the current Ohio state budget process. The Senate’s proposed effort to minimize the increases in residential property would potentially result in a significant shift in the property tax burden placed on agricultural properties.

Brandon Kern, senior director, state and national policy for Ohio Farm Bureau, and his team have been working with Ohio senators to try to ensure the property tax measures are uniformly applied to agricultural ground.

“We’re seeing the Senate rolling out their first set of changes to the state budget bill and one of the things that the senators are trying to tackle is a concern across the state about increasing property values and the impact that would have on property taxes. Of course, that’s not a new issue for farmers across the state, but one of the proposals to try and address this for residential ratepayers is to try and smooth out the increases,” Kern said. “When your property gets revalued every three years, generally your county auditor is going to look at the market value of your property for residential on that year the reappraisal is happening. What the legislature is proposing is to require them to look at the past three years in between those reappraisals and then average out what the value is based on three years’ worth of data. The problem for agriculture is if you only do that for residential and you don’t follow a similar practice for agricultural land with our CAUV program, you potentially could pretty significantly shift the local tax burden over to agricultural ratepayers. We’ve been walking through this issue with legislators, explaining it to them and really are just asking for similar treatment for agricultural property taxpayers with what they’re talking about proposing to do for residential ratepayers.”

In addition, the Senate’s version of the budget makes significant cuts to some priorities for Ohio agriculture, including funding for H2Ohio, renovations planned for the Ohio State Fairgrounds and the Multi-Species Animal Learning Center at Ohio State.

“We have been a big supporter of the H2Ohio program and the Senate trimmed back proposed increases that have been included in the governor’s proposal and the House proposal for the H2Ohio water quality program. Over the years, the legislature and administration have been very gracious with H2Ohio, but the increases that were proposed this year really represent an effort to move that program to a truly statewide program so we’d like to continue down that road,” Kern said. “We’ve also been a big supporter of the governor’s plan to renovate the Expo Center and the State Fairgrounds. Gov. DeWine had proposed new resources to start that process. There’s been a comprehensive plan put together to rebuild, add some new buildings and put in needed infrastructure at the Expo Center. Now the Senate has cut that funding from the budget bill. We’re hoping that will be reinstated as we go through the process before it goes for final signature to the governor.”

The budget debate in the Senate will likely continue through mid-June to set a conference period to negotiate the differences between the versions of the budget with a goal of getting a final two-year budget passed by July 1. 

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